Automatic draping of carbon-fiber prepreg plies for the aerospace industry is a promising technique for lowering the manufacturing costs and to this end, a thorough in-process quality control is crucial. In this paper, out-of-plane defects in the layup are investigated. After draping, air pockets are occasionally encountered. The question is, if such apparent defects can be mitigated sufficiently during vacuum debulking. The 3D topology is measured by means of a structured-light 3D scanner and air pockets are segmented. An approximate mass-spring ply model is used to study the behavior of the air pockets during application of vacuum pressure. The model is computationally fast and will indicate online whether the air pocket will be removed or manual intervention is required. Upon comparing the model predictions with experimental data, it is shown that the system is capable of correctly predicting 13 out of 14 air pockets in a test layup.